There’s no definitive, industry-wide answer to this. Since we started doing our Product Marketing Insider series we’ve heard Product, Marketing, CEO, VP of Marketing, Comms & Policy, the lot.
The name itself suggests product marketing is closely linked to both product and marketing, but how do you decide which one? If either? Or should it be an entity of its own?
Many people in marketing, product and C-level executives say product marketing should get comfy in the marketing org, and here is their rationale:
- Shared goals - one of the main reasons for the sway towards marketing was focus and alignment of goals.
- Skillset - product marketers unarguably have skills in common with both sides of the fence, but the majority of participants in this survey argued there’s more overlap with marketing.
- Communication - the third bit of logic was all to do with interdepartmental communication. People worried that without product marketing living in marketing there’d be a disconnect between content + product.
What our community thought
The ‘where should product marketing report’ debate’s always been one that divides opinion, so, to get some front line thoughts we picked the brains of fellow PMAers to see what their stance was.
“I was recently asked this quite a few times during my recent job search and it seems just about everyone you talk to has a different POV. My response, every time, is it needs to live in the marketing organisation.
“It needs to be an equal partner in the process, from the very beginning. Being part of a product organisation can limit product marketing’s effectiveness as it can be seen as an end-around on marketing.”
- Mark Pickett, Director, Strategy & Product Marketing at Naviga
“Marketing. I need product to hold me accountable, and I need to be able to hold product accountable. It’s way more challenging to do that if you both ladder up to the same person.”
- Rob Guenette, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Loopio
“My first instinct would be to position product marketing within marketing operations. In terms of key metrics, the product marketer will likely not directly report on lines of code, adherence to timely delivery, bugs in a new build. Just like Product won’t report on subscriber growth, visitor growth, revenue growth, how viral the product is, number of channels of activation etc.
“But, because product marketing is such a young practice, I find the most essential aspect of product marketing is that it crosses departments. If bound to a product team, product marketing risks becoming irrelevant on the market as it can lack marketing excellence. If bound to a marketing team, product marketing risks lacking credibility.
“Take the case of consultants - the beauty of getting an outsider’s perspective is that they are usually unbiased. When outside a product team, product marketers are better placed to have fresh opinions towards the product, know what to look for and what to watch out for to best represent the interest of their target market.”
- Rebecca Glitia, Channel Marketing & Partnerships at 123FormBuilder
Still not sure?
If you're currently in the thick of this conundrum here are some pros and cons to each that might help your decision.
Product Marketing under Product
Product Marketing under Marketing
As you can see, it’s not black and white. Most product marketers don’t spend much time in one place, they’re constantly jumping from product to marketing to sales to operations to onboarding to customer service to...you get the drift, every day, and so they need to be closely aligned to all the pieces of the pie.
What works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you so it’s all about finding a solution that’s tailored to your company’s goals, priorities and communication plans.
For example, does your product marketing department have a strong focus on producing messaging and sales collateral? If so, Marketing’s your friend. Or do you spend a lot of your time supporting Product with customer insights? Yes? Then you guessed it, Product’s probably your home.
As well as all that, you’ve got to think about the condition of your interdepartmental relationships. Let’s say you currently sit under Marketing but your link with Product is strained. As a result, you’re not getting the information you need when you need it, your plans are falling behind schedule and your strategy isn’t as effective as it should or could be.
Could moving under Product resolve those issues? Rightly or wrongly, those internal frustrations might need to determine who you report to.
So, where do you sit and what was the reason behind who you report to? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.